Today’s distance / ???????: 70 miles / 113km
Average speed / ????: 8.7mph / 14km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 7h 50m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 6172mi plus 386mi (?) / 9932km plus 622km (?)
Ascent / ??: 590m
Descent / ??: 850m
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N34°48′53.4″, E108°05′30.4″
It’s days like this that make it all worth while. More than 100km on a recently paved, brand new six lane expressway that is still not open to public traffic. It was a wonderful break from the traffic, noise, and haste of China National Highway 312.
Today, this was my cycle lane. All to myself. OK, and a few road workers.
The road is the trans-China super expressway, the G70. I have been more or less skating in parallel to this expressway ever since I began the journey across China three months ago. At times it disappears; a mere imaginary line on a civil engineer’s plan, to be constructed in the future. At times it is in full use by hoards of fast moving vehicles, all transporting China’s future to the masses. Today, the G70 was quickly moving towards completion between Changwu in Gansu Province, and Yongshou in Shaanxi Province.
On a surface like this, void of distractions, all I have to do is skate. No cars to think about, no surface imperfections to keep an eye out for. Push, and that’s all. Everything else can blur into oblivion.
The ocassional other sneaky locals were also making use of the quiet expressway, surprised at the foreigner who had also found a way onto the ribbon of blacktop.
Tunnels and toll gates were the most active in terms of construction work. Internal walls were being tiled, lights were being wired.
At one point, the expressway cut through an area of old cave ‘houses’. Some of these caves in the area are still used as storage spaces for the locals.
In other places, the expressway spanned massive valleys, giving commanding views of the surrounding landscape. A real pity about the pollution however.
I had made the comment to a taxi driver in Xian a week earlier when I was there that I liked China a lot, but the air pollution was a little bad. “What air pollution?” she asked. “It’s just low cloud. It will rain soon, you wait and see. Pollution. Hah.”
Yeah. Low cloud. Whatever.
So I guess that’s a future low-cloud-making factory…
I only left the expressway two times today. Once to eat lunch, and once to find a place to sleep. Lunch of course was beef noodle soup. This stuff burns so good.
From mid afternoon, a strong wind started to blow from my back. It pushed me on with great ferocity, but as I had expected soon brought the rain that was following close behind. For a solid three hours I skated in heavy rain, still on the new expressway. I was happy to be off the G312 with its heavy traffic, uneven road surfaces, and road grime.
Towards the end of the day today the expressway climbed to 1,200m to a tunnel where at last I descended fast to Yongshou.